Why Do Some People Struggle With Reading?

For some of us, learning to read is as simple as learning to speak. It just comes naturally. We are given readers at school and encouraged to either memorise or guess the words. Most of us can do this and are able to retain what we’ve learnt. Some of us are good at this and others aren’t. Up to 20% of the population struggle significantly with reading. Some may have dyslexia, others don’t have a diagnosed condition but have huge gaps in their basic phonemic awareness and struggle to understand the relationship that letters have with sounds. The ability to read, or decode a word, is a struggle and they begin to think that there is something ‘wrong’ with them. They will notice a difference between themselves and their peers in the classroom. As a consequence, their self-esteem will suffer and that becomes a vicious circle.

I’m not good at art. I struggle to draw a stick figure. I admire people who can paint or draw and secretly wish I was one of them. My complete lack of artistic ability is not an issue I encounter on a daily basis. It does not affect my education or lifestyle and has not impact on my ability to obtain and maintain work. I’ve searched and cannot find a name for my ‘condition’. Sure, kids laugh when I try and illustrate my point by drawing in a lesson, but I can deal with that!  

For students struggling with reading however, their whole lives are impacted. The ability to read is essential in order to fully participate in our education system, and as adults, to do such mundane tasks as read a bus timetable, understand price tags in stores and ultimately, to get work. We need to be able to write job applications, read our contracts and understand the jargon that comes along with our exorbitant electricity bills each quarter!

We all have our strengths and challenges. Clearly one of my challenges is art! The challenge for children who struggle with reading is real and impacts on their whole lives. Imagine being great at maths, but finding that you cannot participate in the lesson because you can’t read the instructions.

Every child has their own superpowers. Let’s celebrate those superpowers! Let’s encourage our kids to soar! Praise your child for the amazing Lego tower they’ve just built whilst quietly wondering to yourself whether you would have the skills to do such an amazing job. Watch them perform at school assembly and be amazed at their skills, knowing full well you’d never get up there and do what they’ve just done. Encourage them to find their passion and run with it. It will do wonders for their self-esteem.

We can’t all be good at everything, but in our world, being able to read is important. While our kids are celebrating their achievements and strengths, let’s make sure they have the reading skills to be able to participate fully in the curriculum. Let’s go back to basics. Find out what they don’t know and what they have trouble with and help them to learn. They will thank you for it and you will see your child soar.

What are your child’s strengths?

Sue- Reading Connections